We are so proud of Downtown Boxing Gym graduate, Melanie Rayford, one of the first-ever recipients of a $10,000 impact scholarship from Shamrock 555 The Stephen Luigi Piazza Foundation.

Her reaction was priceless – a mix of shock, joy, and a tidal wave of emotion. Melanie Rayford appeared stunned and grateful as she was called up to the podium August 23 during the first annual Shamrock 555 golf outing at Cherry Creek Golf Club in Shelby Township. She and Mosaic young artist, Amari Harris, were both presented with surprise $10,000 checks to help jumpstart their bright futures.

“Thank you so much for everything. This is really big because college is very expensive,” Melanie told the crowd while fighting back tears. “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to go because of all the expenses.”

But thanks to this scholarship and others, Rayford is well on her way. She’s already moved into a dorm room at Wayne State University and started her freshman year. She’ll be studying software engineering with plans to develop apps in the future.

“Melanie is always working to better herself in any way possible,” said Ryan Houlihan, chairman of the Shamrock 555 Foundation. “She is a leader to other students and has inspired many to pursue their dreams as she has.”

Created by our beloved mentor, supporter and friend, Stephen Luigi Piazza, Shamrock 555’s mission is to “continue supporting the endeavors of organizations dedicated to the betterment of children’s educational and social needs.”

The foundation will carry on the philanthropic legacy of SLP who passed away earlier this year after courageously battling cancer. Stephen served on the advisory board of the Downtown Boxing Gym and was one of our biggest advocates and champions. While was undergoing treatment, he decided to form the foundation.

“Stephen spoke to us from his heart and shared his vision and desire of continuing to help those in need, especially children,” said Janet Honess, Stephen’s partner. “From that moment, and with his guidance, the Shamrock 555 Foundation took root.”

Melanie’s mother, Lynn Rayford, was there among the crowd for the emotional presentation. She praised the Downtown Boxing Gym for changing the course of her daughter’s life and giving her the tools she needs to succeed.

“As a single mother, being able to have her go to a facility with strong, positive male role models, with the focus on tutoring and education – it made such a huge difference,” she said. “Any issue Melanie had, any test she had to study for, any big project, she got the help she needed at the boxing gym. She came home with everything completed and she got good grades. The staff let her know about scholarships and helped her apply for different things. She gained confidence and she graduated from high school prepared for college. We are truly grateful.”

The Shamrock 555 Foundation is just getting started. Click HERE to learn more or make a donation.